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Regulator Says Failure Of Retail Suppliers To Correct Utility-Filed Data Reflects On Suppliers' Technical & Managerial Capability

July 21, 2022

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Copyright 2010-21
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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In ruling on a discovery objection, the Connecticut PURA has essentially adopted a de facto requirement for retail suppliers to monitor and correct data filed by the utilities concerning the suppliers and retail market, as failure to do so, "reflects on an electric supplier's technical and managerial capability."

The discovery related to PURA's implementation of its authority to condition access to utility systems on all supplier offers being just and reasonable, including, but not limited to, proof that the electric supplier's products are not overpriced or harmful to residential customers (Conn. Gen Stat. § 16-245(a))

Among other things, PURA's Office of Education, Outreach, and Enforcement (EOE) had issued an interrogatory for suppliers to provide certain residential rate and customer information, for a period of five years, including direction to, "provide a detailed explanation for any differences greater than 5% between the supplier provided information included within [the supplier's reported data] compared to the EDC provided Residential Compliance information included within Docket No. 06-10-22."

The NRG Retail companies broadly raised objections to the data requests as unduly burdensome, and specifically the requirement to provide an explanation for any difference with the EDC data which is above the 5% threshold

The NRG Retail companies had said, "The requirement that each supplier compare the data provided in response to Interrogatory EOE-6 to that of the EDCs and explain discrepancies over a certain threshold further exacerbates the burden required to respond to the Interrogatories. Because they do not control, and do not have access to, the EDC systems, the NRG Retail Companies cannot guarantee that their data will match comparable data in EDC systems or will be consistent with the data filed by the EDCs in Docket No. 06-10-22. Nor can the NRG Retail Companies reasonably be expected to reconcile any differences between the data in their systems and the information filed by the EDCs in Docket No. 06-10-22. Any such reconciliation would require consultation with the applicable EDC to determine the cause of the discrepancy and could entail a time-intensive review of thousands and possibly millions of pieces of data to resolve the issue."

In response, EOE offered to remove the requirement that the electric suppliers reconcile their responses with the information submitted by the EDCs in Docket No. 06-10-22, with EOE instead offering to review all of the electric suppliers' responses to the Interrogatories, and posing additional interrogatories to any supplier whose responses raise concern.

However, notwithstanding EOE's offer, PURA declined to adopt it in ruling on NRG's objections, and instead opined on the duty of suppliers to resolve any deficiencies

"While the Authority appreciates EOE's flexibility on the issue, the Authority declines to adopt it in this motion ruling ... [T]he electric suppliers have had access to the information filed by the EDCs in Docket No. 06-10-22 for years and could have resolved any deficiencies between the information filed in that docket with the electric suppliers' own information. Any failure to do so reflects on an electric supplier's technical and managerial capability," PURA said

While EOE had offered to remove the requirement that suppliers explain any difference between their responses and the EDC data, EOE also spoke to an obligation of suppliers to monitor and correct the EDC data

EOE had stated in a response to NRG's objections that, "If any [EDC] filing was incorrect any supplier could have made a filing in the docket any month disputing the EDC's compliance filing. None have. Further, a supplier could have contacted the EDC to resolve the discrepancy and request that the EDC issue a revise compliance filing, which would be the data to which the supplier would now reconcile. It appears that suppliers have not bothered to review the data filed by the EDCs in Docket No. 06-10-22 for years and now complain that the data may (or may not) be inaccurate and difficult to reconcile with their own records. This is not an argument that generates sympathy."

More broadly, PURA denied NRG's objection that the data requests were overly broad and unduly burdensome

PURA agreed with EOE that the information requested in the Interrogatories is information that an electric supplier should expect that the Authority may request and information that the electric supplier should maintain, should have access to, and most likely tracks as part of its everyday business

"All electric suppliers, including the [NRG] Companies, should have the requisite staff and expertise to respond to the Interrogatories," PURA said

PURA also denied NRG's objection which had sought to limit the time period for the data

NRG had argued that statute only allows PURA to seek data related to products since the effective date of Public Act 21-117, which established the applicable Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245o, and established the standard of, "proof that the electric supplier's products are not overpriced or harmful to residential customers." [emphasis by NRG]

PURA denied this objection, stating that the prospective nature of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-245(a), "has no bearing on the relevance of evidence sought in a proceeding."

"The Authority is conducting this proceeding to, inter alia, investigate supplier offers permitted pursuant to Conn. Gen Stat. § 16-245(a). See Revised Notice of Proceeding, Jan. 24, 2022, p. 1. Therefore, information regarding supplier offers provided by electric suppliers for the period of January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2021 is relevant to the Authority's investigation. Accordingly, the Authority's investigation in this docket is not limited to products sold to residential customers after the effective date of § 7 of the Electric Suppler Act, and the information requested is relevant to the Authority's investigation; therefore, the Authority denies the Companies' request to limit the scope of the Interrogatories," PURA said

In a July 21 ruling, PURA denied the NRG companies' request for a two-week extension to file data responses

"Accordingly, all electric suppliers, including the [NRG] Companies, to which EOE propounded the Interrogatories were required to fully respond to the Interrogatories by July 19, 2022. Further delays in responding to the interrogatories will subject the electric suppliers to continuing penalties under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-41," PURA said in the July 21 ruling

Docket No. 18-06-02RE01

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